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SEEDS of Learning

The spring of 2022 marked 15 years since First 5 Santa Cruz County brought the SEEDS of Learning 2009©, an evidence-based early literacy and math professional development initiative, created by Kate Horst, to early childhood educators in Santa Cruz County. Over these past 15 years, 697 early childhood educators in our community have been trained and mentored to embed relationship-based early literacy and language frameworks and practices in their classrooms and family child care environments.


These frameworks, based on the latest science of reading, have been proven through research to help children develop the social, emotional, language and literacy skills they need to enter kindergarten on target with early reading predictors, which include oral language, phonological awareness, print awareness, alphabet knowledge; and conversation. “Teachers experience excitement and feel rewarded by seeing the gains that children are making and that their interactions and interventions make a difference. The more they see this, the more confidence they gain!" shares Vicki Boriack, First 5's Senior Program Officer.

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When sharing what SEEDS embodies, Irene Freiberg, First 5’s Master Literacy Coach shared that “SEEDS of Learning is a relationship-based language and literacy framework that supports children’s social-emotional development and is taught through a set of balanced quality teacher-child interactions.  It is based on the latest research to ensure that children enter Kindergarten eager and ready to learn and become confident and fluent readers."

In addition to literacy and math, the emphasis on social-emotional development is key to what the acronym SEEDS stands for, which is to be sensitive and aware of child development, encouraging, educating and developing skills by doing all of this directly with children to build their self-esteem. Examples include themes, extended conversation, open-ended questions, daily schedule, putting more thought into the kinds and qualities of activities with children, including the “why” the activities are important, in order to move them on the road. 

For more information on upcoming classes email Irene Freiberg 

SEEDS of Learning 2009©, an evidence-based early literacy and math professional development initiative, created by Kate Horst.

Learn More About Early Childhood Education Resources

Learn More About Kate Horst's current work 

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 “The SEEDS of Learning has given me the powerful knowledge and tools in supporting children’s language and literacy development.”

- SEEDS of Learning Student

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 “Children are able to develop their literacy skills because of the effectiveness of creating a literacy-rich schedule and including embedded and explicit activities in the daily routine.”

- SEEDS of Learning Student

The seeds of literacy are planted before children enter school. Important literacy skills do not develop spontaneously, instruction shapes them.”

(Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998)

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